Washington Supreme Court Puts Hospital Boarding Decision On Hold

Aug 25, 2014

The state of Washington will not have to start discharging severely mentally-ill patients starting this week. The Supreme Court on Monday put a hold on a recent ruling that says it’s illegal for the state to “board” psychiatric patients in non-psychiatric hospital beds.

That ruling was supposed to take effect this Wednesday. But the state, along with mental health advocates, asked the Supreme Court for a 120-day stay. That would give time – theoretically – to open up 145 new psychiatric beds statewide.

Gov. Jay Inslee has approved $30 million in emergency funding to do this. The Supreme Court has now said it will consider the motion for a stay on Sept. 4. In the meantime, the court’s ruling will not go into effect.

This whole situation stems from a lawsuit filed on behalf of several psychiatric patients who were involuntarily committed and then held in regular hospital beds. The court said that’s unlawful.

State officials have said they want to avoid a situation where patients who pose a threat to themselves or others are released due to a lack of psychiatric beds.